If you love food, you’ll love Austria. The country has an endless list of restaurants that you’ll want to eat at, from little cafes to fine dining establishments, and from authentic Austrian dishes to innovative international cuisine. As a tourist, it’s rather heartbreaking – there’s absolutely no way to leave without feeling that you should have squeezed in that one particular place (in fact, often not one, but several). Fortunately, expats have it easier. Sure, you’re not on vacation, but you’re there long-term, and it’s not too difficult to fit some great meals into your busy schedule. In Austria, you won’t have trouble finding great places to eat around where you live and work, and when you do take a vacation, you can wander off for a more leisurely meal at one of the idyllic little places in the Austrian countryside.Here are five restaurants to get you started on that never-ending list:
1. Steirereck im Stadtpark: The Stadtpark or City Park in Vienna is a huge, gorgeous public park containing a wide range of flora, a century-old spa pavilion, numerous statues and monuments, and some great food. The Steirereck im Stadtpark, a Michelin two-star restaurant, sits in the Meierei, an old dairy building or “milk drinking” hall, along with what is known as Meierei im Stadtpark. While the former is more of a gourmet restaurant, the latter serves wholesome Austrian food, including some great breakfasts and 120 different types of cheese from 13 countries. There’s also an impressive wine list that is worth exploring. Both restaurants use the finest local produce, Chef Heinz Reitbauer is a culinary genius, and the service is top-notch and yet warm and welcoming.
2. Brezl Gwölb: Also in Vienna, Brezl Gwölb is homely little restaurant, tucked away in a little lane off from the square. Lit with candles and old lanterns, furnished with dark wood pillars, chairs, tables and benches, the place feels almost like a museum. It’s a cozy little pub and restaurant that serves the most homely, delicious, authentically Austrian food you’ll find anywhere – pretzels, schnitzel, Blunzengröstl, and plenty more, along with some great Austrian wine.
3. Schachlwirt: This is a homely, family-owned, family-run restaurant that’s great for a hearty meal. Schachlwirt is in downtown Salzburg and serves traditional Austrian and Hungarian food that has been traditionally prepared. Many of the dishes are seasonal, made with locally sourced ingredients, and the menu also includes some fantastic traditional desserts. The prices are low and the portions are huge, so keep that in mind if you want to leave some space for dessert.
4. Gasthof Schloss Aigen: While you’re in Austria, you’ll probably want to have at least one meal in a country manor. There are plenty to choose from, but if you’re in Salzburg, you should definitely visit Gasthof Schloss Aigen. With its rustic façade, its wooden floors and walls, and its cozy courtyard, the place has a wonderful old world charm that is matched by the cuisine – you’ll find regional specialties and dishes from the Austrian Empire that are difficult to find almost anywhere today, even in the Austrian countryside. Of course you also have the best Austrian wines to go with your meal.
5. Obauer: If you’re in Salzburg and you have the time for a short trip outside the city for a meal, Obauer is the place to go to. Fresh local ingredients, friendly, helpful staff, and incredible food in a rustic setting make for a fantastic meal. The Obauer brothers who run the place have a strong traditional base that they take to great heights with a few modern influences and their own unique innovations. The restaurant is located in Werfen, only 35 km south of Salzburg, and you can either drive down or take the train. Obauer is walking distance from the station, and the mountain air will no doubt whet your appetite. If you have time, you should also see the nearby ice caves and the Hohenwerfen Castle. The Eisriesenwelt is supposed to be the largest ice cave in the world, and the medieval castle which looks over the town of Werfen is quite a spectacle in itself, besides having served as the backdrop for The Sound Of Music’s famous ‘Do-Re-Mi’ song.